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Friday, January 29, 1999
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Volume 64, Issue 82


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Campaign targets alleged affirmative action violations

By Heather Kofke-Egger
The Dartmouth 
(Dartmouth College)

HANOVER, N.H. (U-WIRE) -- A conservative public policy firm placed full-page advertisements in approximately a dozen campus newspapers across the country Tuesday with the headline "Guilty By Admission," accusing "nearly every elite college in America" of violating affirmative action laws in admissions decisions.

The ad, placed by the Washington-based Center for Individual Rights, urges students to download or send away for a free handbook on how to investigate their colleges' adherence to laws on race and admissions. The handbook also details what students can do if their institutions are in violation of those laws.

The new ad campaign specifically targets 15 high-profile colleges, including three Ivy League schools -- Dartmouth, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

According to the center's Senior Counsel Terence Pell, CIR targeted these particular schools because, according to a study conducted by the Center for Equal Opportunity, race plays a larger role in admissions selection at more competitive institutions.

"We're not in violation of any law, and we are going to continue at Dartmouth to admit a rich and diverse student body," said Dartmouth President James Wright. "I'm not at all uncomfortable with the process we use in admitting students."

The CIR handbook outlines the main court decisions and laws regarding affirmative action admissions procedures.

The main court case involved is the 1978 Supreme Court decision University of California Regents vs. Bakke, where the court ruled that setting aside a certain number of slots for minority students was unconstitutional.

Justice Lewis Powell, who wrote the deciding opinion, said practices that created separate procedures for admitting different races were unconstitutional, but colleges could take race into account as one of several factors contributing to a diverse student body.

In addition, the handbook also cites Title VI, a law which prohibits any institution receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of race.

"We think that almost every elite school is in violation of the law," Pell said. "Schools should not wait until the next big Supreme Court decision to change that."

Along with the three Ivy League institutions, the following 12 colleges and universities are being targeted by the campaign: the University of Chicago, Duke, James Madison University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Stanford, the University of Virginia, Wake Forest, The George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, and William and Mary.

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